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Laboratory Safety Awareness. for Non-laboratory Personnel. Outline. Laboratory Hazards Chemical Biological Radiological Physical Personal Protective Equipment Emergency Procedures Special Procedures. Potential Lab Hazards. How Chemicals Enter the Body. There Are Three Routes of Entry:

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Laboratory Safety Awareness

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Laboratory Safety Awareness

for Non-laboratory Personnel


  • Laboratory Hazards

    • Chemical

    • Biological

    • Radiological

    • Physical

  • Personal Protective Equipment

  • Emergency Procedures

  • Special Procedures

Potential Lab Hazards

How Chemicals Enter the Body

There Are Three Routes of Entry:

  • Ingestion – swallowing the chemical

  • Inhalation – breathing in the chemical

  • Absorption – the chemical soaks through the skin

Chemical Hazards

  • Chemicals are the most common and significant health hazards

  • Chemicals can be hazardous for numerous reasons and can combine with other chemicals to make new hazards.

Hazard Type Common Related Task

The degree of hazard associated with a particular chemical will depend on:

1. Its physical properties

2. Its toxicity

3. The way it is used and the environment in which it is encountered.

NFPA Hazard Rating System

Biological Hazards

  • Sources of biological hazards include bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans.

  • These sources can cause a variety of health effects ranging from skin irritation and allergies to infections, cancer and so on.

Prevention of biological hazards at work:

  • Wear the appropriate PPE

  • Look for information about the biological hazards that may be present in the workplace.

  • Make sure you receive all the information relevant to your tasks.

  • Identify the sources of biological agents present in the workplaces.

  • Set priorities for action according to the magnitude of the risk, numbers affected, etc. Prevention should follow a hierarchy of measures: Avoid risks

Radiation Hazards

3 Rules to Reduce Exposure

  • Time

    • Reduce time in areas containing radioactive materials.

  • Distance

    • Keep your distance from radioactive materials- exposure drops very quickly.

  • Shielding

    • Use proper shielding to reduce exposure if shielding is necessary.

  • Contamination Control

    • PPE

    • Surveys

Radiation 101

  • There are two ways that an individual can be exposed to radiation

    • Internal exposure

      • By mouth, nose, eyes, or any open cut

      • Main concern with alpha and low energy beta

    • External exposure

      • Energy is passed through the body and/or absorbed by tissues

      • Main concern with high energy beta, gamma, and neutron radiation

Routes of Radiation Exposure

  • Internal

  • (alpha, low energy beta)

  • Inhalation

  • Ingestion

  • Injection (wound)

  • Absorbtion

External (high energy beta, gamma, neutron)

Minimizing Personal Hazards

  • Observe and obey all radiation signs

    • Do not empty radioactive trash

    • Do not utilize or service radioactive labeled equipment without authorization from REM radiation staff (see updated “Clean Sheet” on REM’s Forms webpage)

      • Note that if equipment comes from a radioactive material use lab but does NOT have a radioactive label, then there is no need to have the radiation safety staff perform a survey on that piece of equipment.

Common Signs- Door Sticker

On laboratories authorized for radioactive materials. Lists what common practices allowed in lab (eating, drinking, etc.)

Common Signs- Hood/Refrigerator Label

On hoods, refrigerators, freezers, other large lab equipment

Common Signs- Radioactive Waste Label

On waste bags, areas, liquid containers, drums, and buckets.

Common Signs- Item Label

For beakers, small containers, laboratory equipment, etc.

Emergency Procedures

  • In case of emergency or spill in the area

    • Call campus police/fire (i.e. 911) if there is a fire or serious accident in the lab.

    • Call REM Rad Staff to let them know of the accident involving radioactive material.

    • If there is anything unusual in laboratory that could possibly be a hazard, report to REM Rad Staff.

      • Puddles of water around radioactive waste, liquids leaking from radioactive refrigerators, waste spilling out of hoods or containers, etc.


  • Radioactive material must be secured.

    • Only authorized individuals should have access to the radioactive material.

  • Material or waste with radiation labels should never be handled by non-authorized individuals.

  • Notify lab director of any work that will be done in lab before starting.

  • Radioactive waste must be segregated from hazardous waste, biological waste, etc.

    • If a pickup is requested for non-radioactive waste, and radioactive materials are stored in same location - REM Rad Staff must perform a survey of the waste prior to pickup.

Physical Hazards

  • Wet floors

  • Electrical hazards

  • Burns

  • Back injuries

  • Trip hazards

  • UV lights (sunburns)

  • Others…

Physical Hazards

  • The most common types of physical hazards are:

    • Fire

    • Explosion

    • Chemical Reactivity

  • Physical hazards are defined as those type of hazards that can cause harm to a worker from an external source.

  • Other physical hazards include, but are not limited to, slips and falls, exposed machinery because of improper guarding, live electrical circuits or conductors, equipment moving about on site, confined spaces, and falling objects.

Electrical hazards

  • Some electrical units can cause electric shock and fire hazards

  • Physical harm from shock or burns

  • Danger from fire due to heat and sparks produced.

Other Hazards

Cryogenic materials hazards

Compressed Gases

Danger of fire



Mechanical Injury

Preventive measures:

Observe proper labeling and storage condition.

Follow correct handling & transport of tanks.

  • Fire or explosion

  • Asphyxiation

  • Pressure buildup

  • Embrittlement of materials

  • Tissue damage

    Preventive measures:

  • Use of appropriate gloves and all the PPE associated.

  • Appropiated storage in well-insulated containers.

Gas Cylinder Safety

Safe work practices

  • Wash your hands after performing any task, after removing gloves, and always before eating (eating and drinking away from the workplace).

  • Avoid hand-mouth and hand-eye contact, protecting wounds.

Personal Protective Equipment

Universal Precautions:

1. Treat all laboratory specimen/substance as infectious/dangerous.

2. Use a protective barrier:

  • These barriers consist of:

    1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    2. Work Practice Controls

What is personal protectiveequipment PPE?

  • It is designed to protect employees from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with workplace hazards.

  • The employer must assess the workplace and determine what hazards may necessitate the use of PPE before assigning PPE to workers.

What is Included?

  • Head, hard hats

  • Eye, safety glasses and goggles

  • Face, face shields

  • Hearing, earplugs, earmuffs

  • Respiratory Protection

  • Hands, gloves

  • Foot, safety shoes

  • Clothing, vest

Eye and Face Protection

  • Safety Glasses: Primary protectors intended to shield the eyes from a variety of impact hazards

  • Goggles: Primary protectors intended to shield the eyes against flying fragments, objects, large chips, and particles.

  • Face Shields: Secondary protectors intended to protect the entire face against exposure to impact hazards

Some Rules for Glove Use

  • Select gloves which are resistant to the chemicals you may be exposed to.

  • Check gloves (even new ones) for physical damage

  • Wash the external surface of the gloves frequently with water.

  • Some gloves, especially lightweight disposables, may be flammable.

  • Avoid the contaminated exterior contacting the skin.

  • Dispose of contaminated gloves properly.

  • Do not attempt to re-use disposable gloves.

  • Never wear possibly contaminated gloves outside of the laboratory or to handle telephones, computer keyboards, etc.

Other Safety Equipment

Personal Contamination

  • Flush contaminated area with water

  • Remove contaminated clothing

  • Rinse with water for 15 minutes

  • Seek medical attention if irritation persists

Chemical in the Eye(s)

  • Flush eyeballs and inner eyelids

  • Forcibly hold eyes open

  • Irrigate for at least 15 minutes

  • Seek medical attention immediately

Safety showers and eye washes yearly. The location of each safety shower and eye wash should be clearly posted. The area around showers and eye washes must be left unobstructed. Laboratory personnel should inspect eyewashes weekly.

Emergency Response Procedures

Spills and releases

  • Spills and releases of hazardous materials, exposure to hazardous materials, or incidents involving fire or explosion.

Accident Documentation and Investigation

Any accidents involving personal injures, even minor ones, should be reported immediately to a supervisor.

First report of injury:

  • Information of the employer and the injured person

  • Time and place

  • Cause

  • Nature of the injury

Special Procedures and Safety Guidelines


Employee’s Responsibilities:

  • Be familiar and comply with the established laboratory work safety methods.

  • Give prompt notification of unsafe conditions or practices to the immediate supervisor.

  • Engage in the conduct of safe work practices and use of personal protective equipment PPE.


    Workplace Safety is a Shared Responsibility

Fume Hood Tasks

Finding source of a problem


Replacing ductwork

Running ductwork for new hoods

Repairs from explosions

Sash repair or replacement

Retro fitting controls

  • Fan: blades, motor, housing

  • Electrical: lights, alarm, controls, circuits

  • Plumbing: water, sinks, gas, vacuum

  • Repairs from fire

Fume Hood Hazards



Physical characteristics of chemicals

Routes of entry: respirable, oral, skin



  • Chemical

    • carcinogens

    • radioactive isotopes

    • sensitizers

    • explosives

    • flammables

    • toxins

  • Physical

  • Biological


  • PPE

    • Eye protection

    • Gloves

    • Long sleeves

    • Coveralls

    • N95 dust mask

    • Respirators

  • Lockout/Tagout

  • Removal

  • Dilution

  • Cleaning

  • Work techniques

  • Personal hygiene practices


  • Follow protocols in chemical hygiene plan (“CHP”, available on REM’s website)

  • Clean hood when maintenance is needed

    • Remove chemical

    • Wipe down surfaces

    • If radiation hood, take swipe samples when needed


  • Follow SOPs

  • Use appropriate tools

  • Wear PPE

  • Be prepared for emergency response

Fume hoods safety guidelines

  • Notify laboratory personnel in advance of work.

  • If performing work remote from the fume hood, such as working on roof mounted blower/motor:

    • Confirm that no active experimentation or open chemical containers are present in the hood.

    • Fully close and lock out the sash if possible (be sure not to alter or modify the structure of the sash).

    • Affix a sign to the sash indicating that the “Hood is Out of Service for Maintenance Purposes”.

  • If laboratory staff is uncooperative, notify your supervisor.

Fume hoods safety guidelines cont.

  • Have MSDSs available for any chemicals or products introduced into the area as part of the work/project.

  • Wear the appropriate PPE for the job task based on the hazard assessment

  • When work is complete and no hazards are present, remove your PPE and dispose of it if it is single use. If it is of multi-use variety, decontaminate your PPE. If potential biological contamination is present, dispose of PPE in a biohazard bag.

  • When work is complete remove the sash lock and sign and notify lab personnel that the hood is operational.

  • Contact REM for special circumstances involving hood maintenance projects involving chemical fume hoods with cylinders of flammable or acutely toxic compressed gasses.

  • Procedure for dismantling fume hood exhaust ducts

    • This procedure is for standard fume hoods. Perchloric Acid fume hoods require special procedures: contact REM at 474-6633 for further information.

    • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

    • Flush the exhaust duct with a 5% sodium bicarbonate in water solution collecting the effluent. Test the effluent for pH.

    • If the effluent is less than 5.5 or greater than 9.0, continue flushing with the bicarbonate solution, continuing to collect the effluent. This effluent is considering hazardous waste and must be identified accordingly.

    • Once the pH is between 5.5 and 9.0, the effluent can be discharged in the city sewer system and the duct is ready for dismantling.

    • Wet the inside and outside of the duct and cut into small section that can easily be handled.

    • Dispose of duct in appropriate trash bin and send to landfill.

    Procedure for dismantling sink traps

    • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment

    • Have a 20 l bucket for each trap.

    • Flush the trap for a minimum of 15minutes.

    • The recommended cutting tool is a pipe cutter and if required a hack saw.

    • Wet the outside of the trap and dismantle at junction or cut on the sink side, 6 inches above and 6 inches below the bottom of the p-trap taking care no to spill the contents of the trap.

    • Place the entire trap and contents into the 20 litre bucket and label it, identify on the outside of the bucket the building name and the location the trap came from.

    • Seal the bucket and notify REM that all traps and tanks have been removed.

    General Procedures for working in laboratory

    • Notify laboratory personnel in advance of work.

    • Make laboratory personnel aware of any potential equipment that needs to be removed prior to work.

    • Wear the appropriate PPE for the job task based on the hazard assessment.

    • Do not perform work in areas with open chemical containers or if laboratory equipment is in the way.

    • Contact your supervisor if laboratory staff is not cooperative or is unwilling to move equipment.

    General Procedures for working in laboratory

    • Have MSDSs available for any chemicals or products introduced into the area as part of the work/project.

    • When work is complete and no hazards are present, remove your PPE and dispose of it if it is single use. If it is of multi-use variety, decontaminate your PPE. If potential biological contamination is present, dispose of PPE in a biohazard bag.

    • Do not drink, eat, or chew gum in the laboratory.

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